Livestock in drought-damaged pasture

Pasture and Range Weeds Webinar

Following the severe drought of 2012, all the right environmental conditions came together in 2013 for an explosion of weedy species in many pastures and rangelands. Most of the weedy species that flourished this year were annuals, and their abundance in 2014 should be markedly less as perennial grasses recover and increase in density. However, there were some problem perennial weeds that also increased in response to the 2012 drought.

The UNL webinar "Pasture and Range Weeds" presents information on this topic and discusses some of the different weed responses that were observed this year. When-and if-control measures should be applied also is covered. For introduced or seeded grass pastures, herbicide use may increase desirable grass recovery and productivity.

View the webinar.

Grazing and Pasture Management During and After Drought

The article Grazing and Pasture Management During and After Drought, on, links to several resources to help producers identify and consider various management options.

Adjusting Pasture Leases for Drought

Many Nebraska pastures suffered considerable damage due to the drought and overgrazing in 2012. As leases come up for renegotiation, landlords and tenants will want to discuss how effects of the drought and possible changes in the lease. When should cattle be moved into pasture and at what point should they be removed if conditions are dry? How should the pasture be managed for long-term health? What if there is fire or severe hail or the water source dries up? Extension Educator Allan Vyhanalek suggests some topics of discussion and urges early discussion before a problem develops. More.

Conditions May Warrant Extended Cattle Supplements

UNL research on livestock reproduction offers insight into why producers may want to adjust cattle nutrition during breeding season. Research shows that cattled bred on an increasing plane of nutrition have higher pregnancy rates than cattle bred on a declining plane of nutrition. In a more normal year a March calving herd in the Sandhills would have high quality forage in June when cows are bred. However, a May calving herd would be grazing August grass, which is likely to have lower protein levels as it matures. Generally, nutrition supplements would be recommended for the August "high risk" animals, but this year the entire herd may need supplementation due to lower quality spring forage. See more on this research in the UNL BeefWatch article.

Temporary Confinement for Feeding

If the drought continues and pastures aren't adequate, livestock producers may need to temporarily confine cattle or cow-calf pairs. How this is managed can affect whether the operation is defined as an animal feeding operation (AFO), which mean inspections are required. Learn more about space requirements, manure management, site considerations, and permitting requirements in two webinars now available online.

2012-2013 Beef Short Course: Drought Management Strategies for Cow/Calf Producers

If you missed one of the 2012-2013 Beef Short Course programs broadcast on NETV, don't worry. They're now available online on the website. University beef, forage, and veterinary experts discuss:

  • Winter Feeding Considerations for the Beef Cow Herd
  • Managing Calving
  • If the Drought Ends: Grazing and Forage Options
  • If the Drought Continues: Grazing and Forage Options

Nebraska Hay and Forage Hotline 1-800-422-6692


Managing Drought Risk on the Ranch
  • Economic Factors to Weigh in Making Decisions During Drought - View Now
  • Managing Drought Risk on the Ranch - View Now
  • Avoiding Analysis Paralysis: Monitoring and Setting Critical Dates for Decision Making During Drought - View Now
  • The New Cumulative Forage Reduction (CFR) Index: Assessing Drought Impacts and Planning a Grazing Strategy - View Now
  • Using a Drought Calculator to Assist Stocking Decisions - View Now

Grazing and Pasture Management During and After Drought- View Now

Drought Decision Tools for the Cow Herd - View Now

Growing Annual Forages - View Now

Grazing Annual Forages - View Now

Forage Production with Limited Precipitation or Irrigation - Options for the High Plains Region - View Now

Environmental and Regulatory Consideratoins During Temporary Confinement of Cattle - View Now

Site Selection Considerations for Confined Feeding of Dry Cows or Cow-Calf Pairs - View Now

Pasture and Range Weeds - View Now

Market Journal Videos

Karla Jenkins, UNL Extension cow/calf and range management specialist, talks about why farmers and ranchers may be forced to feed cattle in confinement because of back-to-back dry years.

Drought has forced some producers to dry-lot cattle for extended times. Rick Funston, UNL Extension beef cattle reproductive physiologist, discusses breeding and synchronization in confinement.

Planting forage in irrigated land has become a popular topic with continuing drought. UNL Extension Range and Forage Specialist Jerry Volesky talks about the options for using grasses in this situation.